Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Veterinary Programs Strengthen Human-Animal Bond


Pet Column for the week of May 5, 2011

Related information:

Related site - National Pet Week
Services - Human-Animal Bond
Services - Veterinary Profession

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
Debra Domal
Information Specialist

If you've ever shared your life with an animal companion, you understand "the bond." Cat or dog, parrot, horse, or iguana, animals enrich our lives in countless ways. The human-animal bond can be transformational. Ask anyone whose life has been changed by a service or therapy animal, or who has found solace in the companionship of a pet.

Veterinarians play a crucial role in supporting the human-animal bond. The care they provide for animals has a significant impact on the quality of human lives.

The veterinarians and students at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana actively promote the human-animal bond not only through medical care but also through a variety of services.

* At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the medical services provided by a staff of over 80 veterinarians is complemented by the emotional support for owners provided by a full-time licensed social worker.
* With "Pet U," a monthly seminar series offered both in Urbana and at the college's Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine, pet owners learn about the health and behavior of their animal companions.
* Weekly columns on pet health are posted on the internet so owners worldwide have access to authoritative information.

Veterinary students donate hundreds of hours of volunteer time each year to promote the human-animal bond both within and outside of the college. Here are just a few examples of what they do:

* Care for local wildlife through the Wildlife Medical Clinic (http://vetmed.illinois.edu/wmc/);
* At A Pet's Place, provide a safe place and good care for pets of families staying in domestic abuse shelters;
* Staff the Companion Animal Related Emotions (CARE) Pet Loss Helpline, which provides support and information for owners who are anticipating or experiencing the loss of an animal companion (http://vetmed.illinois.edu/CARE);
* Arrange for pet visits to hospitals and nursing homes;
* Organize fundraising opportunities such as a 5-K race or a dog wash to benefit a local humane society;
* Organize and run the annual Veterinary Medicine Open House, held on a Sunday each October. (http://vetmed.illinois.edu/openhouse/)

The college also offers opportunities for veterinarians, owners, and friends to show their support of the human-animal bond.

* The Companion Animal Memorial Fund provides a way for veterinarians and others to express their compassion for grieving animal owners by making donations in memory of the pet; the fund supports noninvasive projects to improve companion animal health (http://vetmed.illinois.edu/advancement/camf.html).
* The Humane Connection Fund makes it possible for clinicians at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to go the extra mile in treatment of animal companions in order to benefit both patients and their owners who may have limited means.

To learn more about ways the College of Veterinary Medicine supports the human-animal bond, visit http://vetmed.illinois.edu/vth/resources.